It has come to my attention in some conversations that I have had of late, that the Pastoral Vision I have had in recent years for CUMC has been misunderstood. So I thought I would take advantage of this opportunity to explain what my goal as a Pastor has been here and why I keep hounding you all for a grander vision and to set goals to make disciples of Jesus Christ here at Centenary UMC.
The United Methodist Church is an itinerant system in that the Bishop and His cabinet appoint Pastors on an annual basis. The Wisconsin Conference does its best to keep Pastors an average of 7 years at each appointment but retirements and vacancies often require shorter stays. My goal for the last few years at CUMC was to have us as a church become so reliant on our programming and ministry as a church that no matter who the Pastor is, was or is going to be, Centenary UMC doesn’t slow down or miss a beat in your ministry to this community and to the world.
Such a vision and goal requires to lessen the degree to which CUMC depends on its Pastor. Pastors are called to proclaim the word, fill the role of our order, model service and officiate the Biblical Sacraments for the congregation. Anything that CUMC requires or depends on the Pastor for outside of those guidelines creates a demand on the Pastor and a congregational dependency on the Pastor that can potentially cause distress and dysfunction if there is change in the Pastorate. Churches that depend on Pastors like this to a large degree are known, as I have stated, as “Pastoral churches”, where the growth of the church and its ministry is largely dependent on the Pastor.
In “Program” churches, the congregation relies on itself and its resources to grow the church and its ministry. The Pastor merely fills a role, an important role, but one role. The church is not dependent on the Pastor for anything except for those expected Pastoral duties discussed above. Due to their investment in volunteer models, paid staff and commitment to a vision of growth and attaining goals in different aspects of ministry to achieve that vision of growth, congregations at “Program” churches tend to prosper no matter who the Pastor is or how long that Pastor has been there or is going to be there.
This is the vision I have had for Centenary UMC. To be a program church whose congregation through adhering to a prayerfully inspired vision for church growth, by working and investing resources together to attain goals wrought from that vision, Centenary UMC will grow in its ministry because of its programs no matter who the Pastor is or was. Through the inspired dedication of its volunteers, staff, faithful members and friends, Centenary UMC will now and for many years to come continue to Love God, Love Others and make disciples of Jesus Christ.